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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 13, 201905:10 AM EST

Entrepreneur: Seeking success? Do whatever it takes

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The founder of Maggie’s All-Natural Fresh Salsas and Dips shares how she beat the odds.

It’s not a lack of resources that cause small businesses to fail, contends Magie Cook, who emerged from childhood poverty in Mexico to create a successful salsa recipe in the U.S.

“It’s the lack of resourcefulness,” she said.

Cook was the keynote speaker Friday to the more than 300 people attending the 27th Annual Small Business Week Celebration on Friday at the University of North Florida Adam W. Herbert University Center.

She overcame odds and made a success out of Maggie’s All-Natural Fresh Salsas and Dips, creating the company in 2004.

Her LinkedIn account says her product line was bought in 2014 by Garden Fresh, a leading fresh salsa maker. In June 2015, Campbell’s Soup Co. bought Garden Fresh for $231 million. Campbell’s Soup agreed this year to sell it for $60 million, according to The Inquirer at philly.com.

Cook started her business with the help of $800 she was given after winning a fresh salsa competition in West Virginia, where she was attending the University of Charleston on a basketball scholarship.

She couldn’t find a job after graduation and became homeless.  Given a place to stay, she entered the competition and won unanimously.

She went to work.

“I called 90 stores,” she said. “Ninety stores told me no.”

Cook changed her approach and called the largest organic supermarket in the country, Whole Foods. And it worked.

Cook told the small business owners, executives and advisers that the keys to success are creativity, determination and passion. Also, she said, “stick-to-it-iveness.”

“Make it happen,” she said, “whatever it takes.”

Her tips:

Try not to hire negative people. “They’re poison,” she said., “They are going to poison your culture.”

Psychology is 80 percent of success. “It’s about what you believe about yourself.”

Cook concluded by reminding participants that they need to figure out “why you do your business.” Employees and customers will buy into it if it’s clear – and clearly communicated.

“People buy not what you do, but why you do it,” she said.

Now a professional speaker and author, Cook is based in Clearwater. 

The two best days of your life, she says, are “the day that you’re born and the day that you find out why.”

“Remember your why.”

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